Pressure Cooker

The UK is currently struggling with the regime put in place, in a highly punitive way, to “grade” and “evaluate” schools. Ofsted, or the Office for Standards in Education, has an intense process designed to strike fear in everyone who gets a visit. So much stress and fear, in fact, that one Headmaster (principal) of a school committed suicide. Promises are being made, but the fundamental solution will NOT be applied in the UK, any more than it will be applied here: Test and punish is incredibly detrimental to education and to student and teacher health and well-being.

From The Guardian:

“Ofsted inspections will be halted until assessors have been properly trained in protecting the wellbeing of school staff, the watchdog’s new chief has announced, after a headteacher’s suicide.
“Martyn Oliver becomes the chief inspector of education in England on Tuesday, and has pledged to launch an inquiry into Ofsted’s involvement in the death of Ruth Perry.

“Last month a coroner ruled the inspection of Perry’s school had contributed to her death, and issued a ‘prevention of future deaths’ notice listing a string of issues for the body to address urgently. Unions later called for all inspections to be suspended in the interim.
“Oliver said he would heed their call until staff received ‘immediate training and support’ on alleviating the stress put on teachers during inspections, with only emergency safeguarding visits going ahead when schools reopen this week.
“‘We’re not going to start inspecting until that initial training has been put in place,’ Oliver said. “‘But this training is not just a one-off, it is part of a series that will significantly upskill all of our inspectors in how to manage the wellbeing of those we’re inspecting.’
“He described how, as the former chief executive of a chain of academies, hearing of the death of a fellow school leader had come as a ‘great shock’.

“His predecessor, Amanda Spielman, came under fire last month after a briefing memo revealed Ofsted’s lead inspectors would spend just 90 minutes on a briefing to address concerns raised by Perry’s suicide.
“Oliver has worked for 28 years as a teacher and school leader in the east Midlands and the north of England, most recently as chief executive of the Outwood Grange academies trust based in West Yorkshire, which runs 41 schools.
“In that time, he said he had personally taken part in 96 Ofsted inspections, making him well aware of the impact Ofsted’s visits could have.

“Many schools in England were still affected by the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, he added, with teachers struggling with disruptive behaviour and poor attendance – as well as the cost of living crisis and mental health issues affecting children.
“‘The moment of lockdown and then returning, for some children not fully returning to school, has broken that social contract with parents,’ Oliver said.
“‘Teaching is a really difficult job. If you’ve got a class of 30 and five children are absent one day and then the next day five other children are absent and you’ve got the first five returning, you’re trying to constantly manage that. That’s making a difficult job even more stressful.
“‘And so I look at attendance, I look at behaviour, I look at the mental health challenge that we’ve got. You throw into that the cost of living crisis, the recruitment and retention challenge for teachers. You put all of that into the mix and, yes, it’s really hard right now for teachers.'”

The Guardian (UK)

Really difficult and stressful indeed. RIP Ruth Perry.